In an expected but no less significant move, Cinemark has announced it will be closing all of its theaters in North America temporarily. It isn't clear how long the closure will last, but other major chains such as AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and the Alamo Drafthouse closed their doors as well in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Cinemark operates 345 theaters in North America and the company extends to include Century Theatres, Tinseltown, CinéArts and Rave. All of the company's locations will be closed as of Wednesday, March 18. In many ways, Cinemark was the last major domino to fall, as the nation's other largest chains made the unprecedented decision to halt operations until further notice. Mark Zoradi, Cinemark CEO, had this to say in a statement.
"Through these absolutely unprecedented and evolving times, one thing will not change, and that is Cinemark's dedication to its team members and moviegoers. The decision to close our U.S. theatres was incredibly tough, but we know it is the right thing to do as global Coronavirus concerns continue to escalate. We will closely monitor recommendations of national and local governmental health organizations and look forward to inviting everyone to once again enjoy experiencing the movies with Cinemark."
The White House recently recommended that all persons in the country avoid gatherings of ten people or more. Exhibitors had already suffered the worst weekend at the box office in 20 years, but increased governmental limitations on public gatherings put the final nail in the coffin on the American movie business for the time being.
Studios had already begun to delay anticipated upcoming releases over the last week or so, including No Time to Die, A Quiet Place: Part II, F9, Mulan, The New Mutants and, more recently, Marvel's Black Widow. With that, theaters were going to have very little to showcase in the coming weeks anyway. Speaking further, Mark Zoradi discussed the impact the closure will have on the chain's employees.
"We also understand the profound impact the closure of our theatres has on our employees, and it is not a decision we made lightly. We will continue to support our employees to the best of our abilities as we navigate through this most turbulent time. I am thankful for the unwavering dedication of our Cinemark employees, as well as your trust and support. We greatly look forward to inviting you to once again enjoy the immersive experience of watching movies at Cinemark."
The movie business could look different by the time theater chains are able to reopen. Universal Pictures recently announced it will be making certain new releases available to rent via digital retailers, while Warner Bros. and Disney are making titles like Birds of Prey and The Rise of Skywalker available earlier than usual. That could impact the traditional theatrical release window down the line. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news comes to us directly from Cinemark.